Kiss of Death Henry Hathaway

Andrew Sarris called this crime drama "a conformist gangster movie" and that phrase suits it to a goody two-shoes T. Victor Mature plays a schlep who's caught holding up a jewellery store and winds up doing time. After his wife commits suicide, he decides he wants to squeal for the sake of seeing his children. The police (led by Brian Donlevy) are more than happy to accommodate him, but there's the little matter of psychotic killer Richard Widmark, who giggles his way through witness murders before Mature has to take matters into his own hands. Widmark, in his famous debut, proves to be the most entertaining thing in the movie; he's the only one on screen who seems to be having a good time, and you wind up rooting for his spirited maniac in spite of yourself. Everybody else is doggedly and unappealingly decent: Mature's family man act gets real old real fast, while Donlevy and company create those condescendingly authoritarian cops that only exist in virtuous but gritty crime movies (don't even ask about Coleen Gray's wifey wife). And though Widmark is the kind of zesty psycho who will push a woman in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs, he doesn't have enough screen time to make up for the blandness of the supporting cast. There's a big following for this movie (which justified a bad 1995 remake with Nicolas Cage), but though it's far from intolerable it doesn't really deserve a second look. Extras include a Fox Film Noir commentary by James Ursini and Alain Silver, which is quite thorough in its analysis of the "docu-noir" style, a still gallery and the trailer. (Fox)